1Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son,* whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains* all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
On January 9, 1986, Aaron Tindall was born.
He was in my arms.
I studied his face as he made those weird twitching movements and pursed his lips.
It was remarkable.
I was looking in a mirror.
I could see my face in his.
He even had the same cow licks in his hair.
My genes have left my imprint on my son.
Almost 6 years later, Juliana Tindall was born.
Julz did not have much hair when she came into my hands, but it was clear that what hair she had was red.
The red hair was from her Grandfather Julius “Red” Timko.
Karen’s genes left an imprint on her daughter.
That is what it is like to have children.
They all have part of each parent in them.
There is always, in some way, a family resemblance.
It might be genetic.
It might be social.
It might be looks.
It might be personality.
We like that.
We want a bit of ourselves to be in our kids.
But I wonder what it was like for Joseph.
Mary’s child was not likely to look like him.
It was not his child.
Would the child look like Mary?
Well maybe, but she knew the child was going to be a boy.
Would he look like his father?
Think about that for a minute.
What might that be like?
What did Mary and Joseph see?
We will never really know because we have not been given any description of the baby.
Nor do we get a physical description of Jesus anywhere in scripture.
In fact, the only type of description we get in scripture is what we see in our scripture verse this morning.
What the author of the book of Hebrews says about Christ is quite remarkable.
He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being.
The mirror image of god.
But once again – no physical description.
The Gospoels are ancient biographies.
And, in those days, people were not physically described in their biographies.
People were described by the way they lived their lives.
And that is how Jesus is described.
We read about what Jesus did.
Jesus changed the relationship between God and humanity.
We got to know God because he came and lived with us.
What we found out was that we mean so much to God, that God left his kingdom.
He descended to be with us and live in the world we live in.
He taught us that there were only two rules.
Love each other.
We feed the hungry.
We give water to the thirsty.
We clothe the naked.
We care for the sick.
We visit the prisoners.
We pray for our enemies.
We welcome the strangers.
We seek to make peace.
Then Jesus took all our failures to do these things on his shoulders and made them disappear on the cross.
He came and scattered the darkness.
He showed us mercy, grace, forgiveness and light into a dark world.
If you were here Chiristmas Eve, you know that one of my favorite Christmas Carols is Hark the Herald.
And that I like the Peanuts gang version from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
You know how it goes:
Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
And later in the carol, we are told to:
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
This prince of peace title comes from Isaiah 9 where we are told that the one to come will usher in a time of peace.
So, God is a peacemanker?
So, Jesus looks like a peacemaker?
That’s what we are told.
We are told that there will be peace on Earth and goodwill from God because of the child born in Bethlehem.
We have been told that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and we proclaim that the coming of Jesus was intended to bring forth a time of peace for all humanity.
And there have been moments when it has.
Particularly during conflict.
Warring parties, whether countries, cultures, or individuals sometimes have a Christmas truce.
But the problem is that often that is what they are, just truces.
Once the season passes, the conflict renews.
Such a truce was called in South Sudan last week.
It did not last.
Perhaps never even started.
So, if Jesus is supposed to look like a peacemaker, well … he doesn’t seem to.
So, if Jesus is the image of God.
And is all powerful.
And is supposed to bring peace on earth.
What does it mean that Jesus brings peace?
Paul said something about it in his letter to the Ephesians:
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.
He said Jesus is our peace.
He is what peace looks like.
He is peace.
Which means God is peace.
What does that mean?
First let’s talk about what it is not.
The peace that Jesus brings is not a political, social, religious or familial peace.
That Jesus did not bring these kinds of peace is obvious by simply reading the paper, watching the news, going on line or having “discussions” with family.
Who among us gets through an entire day without some form of conflict with another person?
So, what is this peace we are promised?
Peace between us and God.
What does that look like?
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
We might still live in a dangerous world where human beings behave badly, but we can have peace with God who loves us more than we can imagine.
We can experience it on a personal level.
The personal level is by knowing that God came here from the womb of Mary to the hands of Joseph, to the hands of John the Baptist, to the hands of the Romans, to the hands of God again.
That was done to make peace between us and God.
God touched us all.
God with us.
That is our peace.
The peace of our mind, heart and soul.
There is an interesting story about.
One of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite places is Sandringham, her palace in Norfolk.
She likes to walk with her dogs at her side.
Sometimes she even goes into the village to shop.
While she was shopping one day, a local resident remarked to her, “Why, you look just like the Queen.”
“How very reassuring,” the Queen replied.
We should be reassured that Jesus was the exact imprint of God’s very being.
He loved us so much that he died in our place so that we could live forever with God.
“He is the reflection of God’s glory,” says the writer of Hebrews.
How very reassuring.
We should be reassured that what this child said and did is the image of the eternal God who created us and wants us in his presence forever.
And we can live like that.
The best description I have come across is from the movie The Shawshank Redemption.
In the film, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, tells the story of Andy Dufresne.
Dufresne is a young, successful banker who is wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms at Shawshank Prison.
Andy endures confinement year after year while maintaining hope that he will be set free.
Red first meets Andy in the prison yard because Red can get things.
Andy wants a rock hammer.
As Andy walks away, he stoops to pick up a rock.
Andy likes rocks.
He seems at peace.
Even in this violent world.
Red says this about Andy:
I can see why some of the boys took him for snobby. He had a quiet way about him: a walk and a talk that just wasn’t normal around here. He strolled like a man in the park, without a care or a worry in the world. Like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place.
We live in a violent place, too.
There is a way we can live like Andy Dufresne.
We can remember that to God we are significant enough for him to come and touch us and stand beside us.
God can be our peace, our invisible coat.
The message of Christmas is good news from God for the whole world.
A baby was born in Bethlehem and this child’s arrival changed everything!
Why should that bring us peace?
Because we now know that God cares!
He cares enough to send the very best, himself!
And in touching our ancestors then, he has caused a chain reaction that allows that moment to reverberate until the end of time.
By coming to us that day, we are assured that we all have significance, even today.
We are important enough for God to come and show us the way to his kingdom.
And we can envelope ourselves in that peace, when nothing else can comfort us.
But we must recognize his presence.
When you wake up in the morning, God is there with you.
As you go through your morning routine—making coffee, fixing breakfast, getting ready for work, getting the kids ready for school, reading the paper, and so on—he is there with you.
God is with you at work, in school, at practice.
He is with you when you play, when you cry, when you laugh, when you grieve.
He is with you at the end of the day.
He waits for you to reach out to him.
The sooner you acknowledge his presence each day, the sooner you begin to experience his peace.
The peace Jesus brings is the recognition that through faith in Jesus we have access to our creator.
Through faith in Jesus we have eternal life with God.
Though faith in Jesus we are rewarded eternally for our faith and trust.
Those who learn to walk in his light experience his peace in their lives.
A peace that is not dependent upon the stability of the world, but on the presence of God.
The presence of a God who is willing to come to me when I need him most, purge me of my demons and welcome me into his family.
How do I know that?
That is what Jesus did.
And he is the image of the Father.
Like Father, Like Son.